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HealthExperts have revealed the secret of happiness

Experts have revealed the secret of happiness

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Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny
Gaston de Persigny - Reporter at The European Times News

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The secret of happiness is to take care of others and make them happy, researchers have clarified. Helping others helps meet the need for social connections and improves self-esteem. Interestingly, it is not necessary for the object of care to actually become happier – it is more important for the person himself to believe that he is doing something good. Happiness is usually called the feeling of inner satisfaction from one’s life. Often this condition is seen as a result of achieving personal goals, meeting their own needs. In practice, however, it turns out that successful people who have realized their dreams are not always happy.

More and more research shows that the source of happiness can be hidden elsewhere – such as giving joy to others. Researchers from the University of Missouri in the United States and the Higher School of Economics in Russia have reached such conclusions. They talk about this in more detail in an article in the Journal of Positive Psychology. Scientists have conducted five experiments designed to clarify which actions make people happier – taking care of yourself, caring for others or maybe someone to take care of them. For each part of the study, the researchers selected 100-200 volunteers, mostly students. Neurotics prefer whiskey, lucky people – beer. What does the choice of alcohol say about the character? In the first experiment, participants had to remember when they did something to make themselves or others happy. When participants were asked to describe how they felt at the time, they found that they liked making others happier than trying to make themselves happier. In the second stage, the researchers tried to reproduce the results in real time and asked the participants to do something pleasant for themselves or for someone else, or just to chat with a friend. Those tasked with making a loved one happy expressed greater satisfaction than the other two groups. Thus, the researchers clarified, in particular, that it is not just about contact with another person, but about caring for him – otherwise, and simple communication would make him just as happy. The third part of the study showed that the feeling of happiness does not depend on how much better the person the participants wanted to make happy felt. This time, the researchers collected feedback from those for whom the study participants tried to do something enjoyable. As it turned out, the satisfaction of the participants depended not so much on how much they actually managed to make the other person happy, but on how they themselves evaluated the result.

“It is possible that the true feelings and condition of the object are not as important as the actor’s own perception,” the authors write. “Perhaps just the thought that one has made another happier is more important than the actual feelings of the object.” The researchers were also interested in what makes people happier – their own actions to make others happy, or someone else’s attempts to make themselves happy. The procedure was similar to the first study, but now participants had to remember not only how they did something for another person, but also how someone did something good for them – he played their favorite song, invited them to dinner, made them is a running company. The volunteers described these actions and appreciated how pleasant they were. In the last experiment, it became clear that caring for others makes you happier, even when it comes to complete strangers.

Researchers stopped people on the street and offered them some money. To some of them, the researchers offered to participate in a survey for this amount and keep the money for themselves, others – to pay for their own parking, and others – to pay someone else’s parking and, if desired, leave a note explaining the action. Those who paid for someone else’s parking lot and reported it to the car owner had the strongest sense of happiness compared to others. It was a little weaker for those who paid for a stranger without leaving him a note. Are we really happier at 60 than at 30? “Perhaps leaving a note ensures that the stranger will acknowledge the good deed, which may be important in meeting the need for a sense of closeness in such situations,” the researchers wrote. “But it is possible that by writing the note, participants were given an additional opportunity to please the stranger, in addition to paid parking – so they had the opportunity to do two things that contribute to happiness instead of one.”

Obviously, the need to feel connected to others is important – it explains why doing something for someone else made the participants happier than doing something for themselves. For more accurate results, it would be useful to study how the established effect works in pairs of people, when both participants have the opportunity to do something to improve the mood of the other, the researchers said. It will also be interesting to identify the possible long-term consequences of trying to make others happy and what the consequences of such behavior would be when it becomes a life strategy.

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